Volkswagen Sharan MPV
"The Volkswagen Sharan is a sensible, practical and capable seven-seat MPV, but it feels expensive compared to newer rivals"
- Refined and comfortable
- Robust and high-quality
- Practical and versatile
- Quite expensive to buy
- More modern rivals available
- Plain styling despite 2015 facelift
With seven seats, a practical and imaginative interior and a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, the Volkswagen Sharan comes to the people carrier, or MPV, market ready to work. It faces numerous rivals, including the attractive Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer, good-to-drive Ford Galaxy and its sister model, the Ford S-MAX.
They all seem fresher and look better value than the Sharan, but the latter’s boxy body means it’s still a great solution for active families, while being surprisingly easy to drive. Before you sign on the dotted line, though, there’s also a sister car - the SEAT Alhambra - to consider. It’s just as versatile and has about as much equipment, but is now only available as a used buy after it was discontinued in early 2020.
The Sharan is available with one petrol and two diesel engines. The petrol is a 1.4-litre producing 148bhp, while the diesels are both 2.0-litre engines, producing 148 and 175bhp. If you do less than 12,000 miles a year, you may want to consider going with the lively petrol engine, since its lower purchase price outweighs its poorer economy.
That said, for a car that may be used for hauling a full complement of passengers from time to time, you may find one of the diesels better. Our favourite is the lower powered 148bhp engine, as it’s economical, achieving up to 44.8mpg. Emissions start at 166g/km of CO2 with a six-speed manual gearbox, rising to 176g/km for the six-speed DSG automatic gearbox.
There are three trim levels: S, SE Nav and SEL. DAB digital radio, sat nav and three-zone air-conditioning are standard on S, but the best, in terms of value for money, is SE Nav. As its name suggests, it also has a sat nav, but also alloy wheels, parking sensors, folding tray tables and adaptive cruise control, which reduces the tedium of long drives. For the luxury Sharan experience, SEL has the lot, including a panoramic sunroof and heated front seats. However, it starts at more than £37,000, which is far from a family-friendly price.
In terms of reliability, the Sharan certainly feels well built, but it didn’t feature in our 2020 Driver Power survey so we don’t have concrete information on it as a model. Volkswagen as a brand finished 19th out of 30 manufacturers in the survey, with a fairly average result in the reliability category.
The Sharan scored the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash tests when tested in 2010, with an excellent 96% adult occupant safety rating being particularly impressive. As the Sharan is one of the oldest MPVs still on sale, it was tested again in 2019 under the updated testing criteria scoring four stars overall with its adult occupancy score falling to 89% overall.
The Sharan is one of the best cars in its class; it’s comfortable, and boasts an impressive engine range, good quality interior, space for seven passengers, plus excellent safety credentials. It's not perfect though; the top-of-the-range models are rather expensive and the styling is a little dull, so it’s worth considering rivals such as the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer, Renault Grand Scenic and Ford S-MAX, too.